Shelbyville man found guilty of rape

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A young Shelbyville man was found guilty of two counts of rape after a one and a half day trial last week.

A jury of eight men and four women deliberated for about an hour before returning the guilty verdict on Nicholas Shawn Marshall, 22.

The public defender's office asked to be allowed withdraw from the case in January, stating in their motion that Marshall had "threatened to do bodily injury to a member of the public defender's staff" when they refused to file a motion for him that they believed would result in an ethical violation. Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler refused to grant the request.

During the trial, the 23-year-old victim testified that she remembered nothing between drinking beer with Marshall, the stepbrother of her ex-boyfriend, in her living room during the evening of June 6, 2009, and waking up in bed with him the next morning. Marshall admitted to her that they had sex and she was very upset, telling him she did not consent to anything.

Later she went to the Lewisburg Police Department, and subsequently to Marshall Medical Center where a "rape kit" and blood samples were taken.

Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation testified that no traces of drugs or alcohol were present in the blood sample, but that Marshall's DNA was identified in the rape kit. John Harrison, a forensic toxicologist, told the jury about "date rape" drugs and how quickly these drugs act, and also how quickly they are eliminated from the body.

Use of a date rape drug would be consistent with testimony from the victim's neighbor, who said the victim was fine one moment and "passed out" on the couch when the neighbor returned five minutes later.

Marshall was interviewed by Lewisburg Police Detective James Johnson on June 9 and provided a DNA sample. In his statement Marshall admitted that he had intercourse with the victim, and also admitted, "she was so messed up she couldn't talk or respond...couldn't talk back when I asked her questions...was incapable of making any decisions about us having sex."

"I'm very sorry about what happened," wrote Marshall in his statement, adding, "I told her I was sorry for what I had done."

"This case has been tried well by both sides," said assistant district attorney Eddie Barnard in his closing argument, asking the jury to find Marshall guilty on both counts.

Stephanie Barca gave the closing argument on behalf of the public defender's office, reminding the jury "Mr. Marshall doesn't have to prove anything," and stating that there was "reasonable doubt" all over the case.

Chris Collins, the newest addition to the district attorney's office, had the final word.

"Saying 'I'm sorry' for violating a woman just doesn't cut it," Collins said. "The only reason we're here is because...she couldn't say no."

Marshall will be sentenced on March 17. He was arrested on Aug. 15, and remains in custody. Marshall has three convictions for aggravated burglary from Circuit Court in January 2007. He was also convicted of driving under the influence and having no driver's license in Lewisburg City Court in July 2006.

As a Class B Felony, a conviction for rape can result in a prison sentence of eight to 12 years for a "Standard" offender, as well as a fine up to $25,000.